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mandy moore

Review: Summer Holiday Round-up (2010/11)

By Cinema and Reviews

T.J. MillerThis year the sum­mer hol­i­days seemed to have been owned by the unlikely fig­ure of T.J. Miller, dead­pan comedi­an, sup­port­ing act­or and eer­ily famil­i­ar back­ground fig­ure. In Yogi Bear he was the ambi­tious but dim deputy park ranger eas­ily duped by Andrew Daly’s smarmy Mayor into help­ing him sell out Jellystone to cor­por­ate log­ging interests, in Gulliver’s Travels he was the ambi­tious but as it turns out dim mail room super­visor who pro­vokes Jack Black into pla­gi­ar­ising his way into a fate­ful travel writ­ing gig and in Unstoppable he’s the slightly less dim (and cer­tainly less ambi­tious) mate of the doo­fus who leaves the hand­brake on and then watches his enorm­ous freight train full of tox­ic waste roll away.

So, a good sum­mer for T.J. Miller then, what about the rest of us?

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Review: 3:10 to Yuma, 2 Days in Paris, Love in the Time of Cholera and I Served the King of England

By Cinema and Reviews

3:10 to Yuma posterThe for­tunes of the Western rise with the tide of American cinema. During the 70’s indie renais­sance we got rugged clas­sics like The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid and The Long Riders, then in the 80’s and 90’s Clint Eastwood re-examined his own myth­ic West in Pale Rider and Unforgiven . (The less said about Young Guns 1 and 2 the better.)

The past 12 months have offered us two Westerns that are as good as any of the last 30 years: The Assassination of Jesse James and James Mangold’s homage to the clas­sic 3:10 to Yuma which opened in Wellington last week.

Yuma is a story (by Elmore Leonard) with great bones: poor, hon­est, ranch­er Christian Bale is suf­fer­ing because of the drought and for $200 takes on the des­per­ate task of escort­ing cap­tured out­law Russell Crowe to Contention City, where he will catch the eponym­ous train to the gallows.

But Crowe’s gang are on the way to lib­er­ate him and Bale’s sup­port is dwind­ling to noth­ing. The ten­sion rises as the clock ticks towards three o’clock.

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Review: Because I Said So, License To Wed and Catch a Fire

By Cinema and Reviews

It’s been a tough old week to be a cinephile. Firstly, poet of the dark interi­or of human exist­ence Ingmar Bergman finally gives up the ghost, then I get to watch a dis­mal romantic com­edy star­ring Mandy Moore. Next, Michelangelo Antonioni, cine­mat­ic archi­tect of the spaces between people, him­self passes over and I get to watch anoth­er dis­mal romantic com­edy star­ring Mandy Moore. If it had­n’t been for The Last Picture Show at the Festival it might have been a depress­ing week indeed.

Because I Said So posterThe Mandy Moore rom-com double-feature fea­tures Because I Said So and License To Wed, both dir­ec­ted by TV hacks who, when fur­nished with decent scripts, can turn out cred­it­able work (Michael Lehmann made Heathers and The Truth About Cats and Dogs) but that isn’t the case here.

In Because I Said So Mandy Moore plays a cater­er and the young­est daugh­ter of pushy single mom Diane Keaton. She’s the only daugh­ter not yet mar­ried and, of course, the whole fam­ily frets about her find­ing the right man before it’s too late (though she’s only about 22). Secretly Keaton places an ad at an Internet dat­ing site hop­ing to screen can­did­ates on Moore’s behalf; mean­while Moore actu­ally falls for a musi­cian with a tat­too and com­edy mis­un­der­stand­ings obvi­ously ensue.

I found it impossible to dredge up any enthu­si­asm for this film but the hand­ful of middle-aged women I shared the screen­ing with laughed like drains so you might want to take their opin­ion over mine if you are so inclined.

License To Wed posterIn License To Wed Moore plays a flor­ist who has just got engaged to John Krasinsky (Tim from the American ver­sion of The Office). The church wed­ding she has always dreamed of comes with strings attached – a com­puls­ory mar­riage pre­par­a­tion course taken by Reverend Frank played by Robin Williams. There are two kinds of Robin Williams film nowadays: the ser­i­ous kind and the crap kind and this is the lat­ter. Krasinsky is quite watch­able though and I sus­pect we’ll be see­ing a lot more of him over the next wee while – he’s like a young Tom Hanks with a pair of com­edy ears on.

Catch a Fire posterReturning from the World Cinema Showcase earli­er this year is the splen­did Apartheid-era polit­ic­al thrill­er Catch a Fire star­ring Tim Robbins and (one of my favour­ite act­ors) Derek Luke from Antwone Fisher. The film is set in the North Eastern Coal Fields of South Africa in 1980 where all com­munit­ies live in the shad­ow of the huge Secunda Oil Refinery. Luke plays apolit­ic­al refinery work­er Patrick Chamusso who becomes politi­cised after being accused and tor­tured over a ter­ror­ist attack at the refinery.

He travels to Mozambique to join the ANC and plot the destruc­tion of the refinery, and the over­throw of the hated apartheid sys­tem. What he does­n’t real­ise is that the mor­al cor­rup­tion of apartheid reflects itself in real world cor­rup­tion every­where and that his move­ments have been watched by police­man Nic Vos (Robbins).

Catch a Fire is a test­a­ment to the many sac­ri­fices of those years dis­guised as a fast-moving thrill­er and it works on both levels. Written by Shawn Slovo, her­self the daugh­ter of white ANC free­dom fight­ers, the film also takes a sens­it­ive approach (in the spir­it of Truth and Reconciliation) to the white side of the story, show­ing the spir­itu­al dam­age done to them by apartheid. You won’t find many more sat­is­fy­ing (or more beau­ti­fully pho­to­graphed) films this year.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday, 8 August, 2007.